I failed a friend. Badly. No, not just badly … very badly.
It took me a while to face it. When I finally realized what I’d done, embarrassment kept me from going to talk with him right away. So now I was doubly wrong. Failed to support him, and failed to admit it even when I knew I should.
Finally, my conscience got so loud that I had to talk with him. As I went, I mentally composed an explanation. I knew nothing could justify or excuse my wrong, but I thought it would help if I explained the circumstances that had made it difficult for me to be there for him during a painful transition.
But as soon as I saw his face, I knew my explanation was worthless. No explanation was going to change his perception of my failing him or soften the pain I’d caused. Besides, I knew that an explanation would only seem like I was trying to justify or excuse my actions … which is exactly what I longed to do, but which would be of no help to my friend.
So I simply said, “I really failed you during the reorganization. I should have come and talked to you right away. My absence and silence must have hurt you deeply. I have no excuse or explanation. I failed you as a manager and I failed you as a friend. I was wrong, and I’m so very sorry. Can you please forgive me?”
His eyes softened as he said, “That’s all I needed to hear. I know you didn’t mean to let me down, but it helps to hear you admit you did. Jesus has forgiven me far worse things, so yes, I gladly forgive you. This is behind us; let’s move on.”
And that was the end of it. No explanation. No excuses. Grace flowed. We were back on course. Ministering together better than ever.
Simple, sincere confessions, without excuses … a great way to take hold of the promise:
“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Prov. 28:13).
Reflection Questions (Most effective when shared with a friend; James 1:22-25)
– Why do we all long to offer “explanations” for our failures?
– How do you feel when people try to explain their wrongs against you?
– What was the most healing confession you’ve heard? What made it so helpful?
– How can a deeper understanding of the gospel free us from the desire to excuse our wrongs?